Beanstalk Ventures Managing Partner Ken Seiff on the dark side of the InternetSep 1, 2020
On this week's episode of Follow the White Rabbit, we speak with serial entrepreneur and venture capitalist Ken Seiff -- joined by our own CEO Dr. Steven Waterhouse, aka Seven. Ken and Seven have been friends and collaborators for several years and both share a firm belief in the importance of privacy and a commitment to strengthening this human right.
When he invested in Bitcoin in 2011, and then Ethereum in 2014 -- in both cases stepping beyond his main retail investment focus -- Ken had already exited two companies, Bluefly and Poppin, as a founder and raised multiple successful venture funds. When the time came to raise his third fund, he made the decision to focus on early-stage blockchain companies, protocols, and applications that are "making a dent in the universe." The result of this decision was Beanstalk Ventures, which invests in some of the most exciting projects in the crypto space.
Ken has known Seven for several years, and the two share much in common. Both have experienced success as both founders and investors, share a commitment to furthering the cause of privacy, and agree that the stakes have never been higher.
"I don't want to be a cassandra and be right about bad things, but [privacy] has definitely become much of an issue for people in the last few years," says Seven. The period has seen both increasing surveillance and the tightening of controls over populations, and moves to strengthen privacy through laws such as GDPR and CCPA. Now, "people are saying, 'how do I take back my privacy?'" says Seven.
The issues and questions around privacy "got pulled forward by years as a result of both covid-19 and the civil unrest" the world has seen this year, says Ken. "When you look at the impact of 9/11, we saw human rights and privacy be trampled by new government laws, acts and institutions. There were huge transformations in government that reduced our rights as a civilization." The same may happen as a result of covid, he believes. "We're seeing talk of health passports, and a breakdown of our systems to distribute capital. I think it's likely there will be some government intervention that tramples on our right to privacy as a result of the pandemic."
And the bright side? "Arguably the best thing to happen to privacy is masks," says Ken. Seven agrees: "Face ID doesn't work when you're using a mask."
Follow us down the rabbit hole: listen to the conversation here or on your favorite streaming service.